Anyone here other than me who’s old enough to remember the 1963 film of a rock star going off to the Army? Bye, Bye, Birdie was a popular hit back in the day. If you are old enough to remember it, you’ll also remember when Elvis Presley was drafted, and in case you’re wondering, yep, that was the inspiration for the Broadway musical that later became a popular movie. For what it’s worth, the lead character, Conrad Birdie, was a bit of “name play” on popular singer Conrad Twitty. Another bit of trivia is that Presley himself was the studio’s first choice to play the role of Birdie. Presley’s agent declined the offer, and the role went to actor Jesse Pearson. The film is credited with making stars out of several performers, including Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margaret.
Now, what does any of this have to do with art? Nothing, really, but you know me. I go off on a lot of tangents while I’m working and playing in the studio, and very rarely do I jump straight into a post without first sharing a few thoughts on a totally unrelated subject.
The only “connection” between the 1963 film and today’s artwork is the fact that all morning as I made swipes of paint across my canvas, I was repeating those words. Bye, bye, birdie… with the “birdie” in this instance being that weird looking crow I did by dripping oil paint onto a canvas panel.
This fellow has been perched on my easel, staring at me for days now. While he was interesting and fun to make, I certainly couldn’t call him a work of art. My crow was merely part of the “art chaos” that was going on in my studio.
The chaos continues to a certain extent, although it’s starting to lead more toward order. That was my approach to this morning’s oil-painting time. I’m studying colors again, specifically color families, and now you’re wondering what does that old crow have to do with anything? You’re probably thinking, “Good grief, girl, just get to the point!” Well, that’s where I’m headed. Give me time to get there, please.
My assignment today was about primary color families. My intention was to use one — red, yellow, or blue — to create an “intuitive abstract” oil painting. I made the choice randomly, and I was delighted to get “blue” — clearly my favorite hue.
So, to put this another way, I was going to get out all of my blues, grab a few brushes and a palette knife, and just have fun putting paint on paper. I even pulled out a large sheet of canvas paper (12″ x 16″) and got ready to start.
But then that crow cawed at me. All right, so I’m exaggerating a bit. Either that or I’m imagining things, but you get the point. The crow painting got my attention. That’s when I started chanting, “Bye, Bye, Birdie!” the bird was painted using a deep blue-black, so it fit right into my blue “color family”. I’d already gotten out a variety of blues for my palette:
- Cobalt blue
- Ultramarine blue
- Phthalo blue
- Cerulean blue
- Prussian blue
I added titanium white and ivory black to the palette to create a variety of values.
I had fun painting over my “drippy crow”, and in the end, I was pleased with my intuitive abstract. It’s nothing but blobs of color — all from the blue “color family” — but I was happy with what I’d done. I was especially happy that I’d been able to get rid of the bird.
Those who have read this blog for a long, long time might remember “Mr. Partridge“, a woe-begone creature I painted back in 2016. Mr. Partridge was my first attempt at painting a bird in oil. I’d begun using oil paints a few weeks before, and he was a sorry-looking bird, let me tell you.
Later, I went on to paint over Mr. Partridge, and found it all but impossible. If you want a good laugh, you can click back on the post where I shared my experience: Die, Mr. Partridge, Die!
Compared to my previous bird-killing, getting rid of my drip-painted crow was much easier. Now, I no longer have to look at him, and he can no longer look at me. Mr. Crow served his purpose; now may he rest in peace.
Note: This is a really fun color exercise. Choose a single primary color — in all its varieties. Add black and white to change the values and just paint, paint, paint. I used 3 different brushes, a toothbrush, and a palette knife to create my Blue Abstract. You could also do the same thing, I suppose, with secondary colors using a variety of oranges, greens, or purples.